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FALL 2017




Reeling in the achievements Pro-angler John Hoyer, a Litchfield High School graduate, finishes in the Top 10 of Cabela’s 2017 National Walleye Tour

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story: 16 Cover Pro angler

John Hoyer, formerly of Litchfield, places in Top 10 in Cabela’s National Walleye Tour

FALL 2017 • Vol. 8, No. 4 PUBLISHED BY

Litchfield Independent Review P.O. Box 307, Litchfield, MN 55355 320-693-3266 Hutchinson Leader 170 Shady Ridge Road NW, Suite 100 Hutchinson, MN 55350 320-753-3635 PUBLISHER

Brent Schacherer: 320-753-3637 NEWS

Juliana Thill, editor 320-593-4808 Litchfield office 320-753-3644 Hutchinson office


more Minnesota lakes have starry stonewort

Kevin True, advertising director 320-753-3648 Sales representatives • Paul Becker: 320-753-3652 • Colleen Piechowski: 320-753-3653 • Joy Schmitz: 320-753-3651 • Greg McManus: 320-593-4804 • Sarah Esser: 320-593-4803 SUBSCRIPTION OR ADDRESS CHANGE

Michelle Magnuson: 320-753-3657

DNR 6 Currents: confirms two

Hutchinson is home to two fishing 14 Waterways: leagues that boast long waiting lists to join


Crow River Press 170 Shady Ridge Road NW Hutchinson, MN 55350 Dockside is published four times a year by the Litchfield Independent Review and Hutchinson Leader newspapers. It is distributed free to lake and river property owners around Litchfield and Hutchinson. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher.

10 Currents: WCCO-TV’s ‘Goin’ to the Lake’ segment features Hutchinson, Crow River, Belle Lake

22 Waterways: Fishing tournament was reel good time 28 In the galley: Grilled and Loaded Smashed Potatoes, Pecan-Crusted Halibut Fillets, Hearty Potato and Cheddar Soup with Bacon, and Apple Crisp FALL 2017 | DOCKSIDE




ohn Hoyer has remained focused on doing what he enjoys — fishing, and it’s paying off in financial and personal rewards. As a teenager, Hoyer began to hone his skills by fishing as many days as he could, whether it was out on Lake Minnie Belle or Washington, up north to Lake Mille Lacs or wherever he could drop a line. The Litchfield High School graduate was determined to advance in the sport, and quickly rose from a co-angler to a pro angler. In his second year as a pro angler, he placed seventh in the 2017 Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship in August. Our cover story is about Hoyer, his work ethic, his accomplishments and what he enjoys most about fishing. We also included a Q&A with Hoyer that one of our freelance writers did earlier this year. As always, we have a boatload of other information, stories and updates for you in the magazine. From fishing tournament updates to news about aquatic invasive species, and from highlights of events on area lakes, to ways you can become involved, we have you covered from bow to stern and port to starboard. The stories that come from people on area lakes and the river never cease to

amaze me. We have talented, creative people living in this area. Be sure to get outside to enjoy Mother Nature’s annual display of color this autumn. To find areas in Minnesota with peak fall color, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Color Finder at The Fall Color Finder is updated every Thursday through the end of Juliana Thill October. Editor If you need to reach me, our advertising sales staff, or others within the company, the telephone numbers at our Hutchinson Leader office have changed. We updated our telephone system and phone numbers, so please make note of our new numbers. And remember, if you have story ideas, events for the calendar, photos of your big catch, your fun day on the lake or favorite campfire recipe, send them to me and I will try to publish your submissions.

CURRENTS Anglers, hunters need to keep proof of license when purchased online

MAISRC showcase to include talks, lunch, tours and demonstrations

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages people who purchase a hunting or fishing license on the DNR website, to keep proof with them, whether on a lake or in the field. People who use a computer to purchase a hunting or fishing license can print most licenses. They need to keep a copy with them when participating in the activity. In cases where the license has a tag, the license will be mailed to the purchaser, and the person must have the license in possession. However, licenses purchased on a mobile device are issued in electronic format, and people can choose to receive an email and/or text message that serves as a license. In that case, the person must carry his/her mobile device or a printed copy of this email or text message to show proof of license.

Interested stakeholders, researchers, and the public are invited to learn more about Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center’s research at the Aquatic Invasive Species Research and Management Showcase on Sept. 13. The Showcase will feature informative talks from the state's top AIS researchers, plus hands-on demonstrations, lab tours, lunch with researchers, and more. Those who attend can learn about the latest in AIS research, gain useful management tools, and get an inside peek into MAISRC’s state-of-the-art lab. Space is limited and pre-registration is required for the showcase, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. Register online at There will be a selection of talks about the latest MAISRC research on starry stonewort, zebra mussels, spiny waterflea, invasive carp, harmful fish diseases, and more. After high demand, MAISRC added a lab tour option that does not include demonstrations. It will be a tour of the lab with the lab manager. The lab tours that include demonstrations are sold out; email Christine at to be added to the waiting list.




CROW welcomes volunteers for Crow River Clean-up Day Event will be Sept. 16 along entire watershed By Juliana Thill EDITOR


hat started as a small group effort by a few organizations to clean up a portion of the Crow River has grown into a watershedwide event. Crow River Clean-up Day started in 2002 with citizen groups in Rockford (Crow River Pride), Hanover (Hanover Area River Team) and Delano (Delano Dream Team), cleaning up their portion of the Crow River. The cleanup activities inspired Diane Sander, watershed coordinator for the Crow River Organization of Water, to

organize a regional event that would encompass the entire watershed. The 14th annual Crow River Cleanup Day will take place Sept. 16. Cleanup activities start at 8 a.m. and run until noon in each community. Following the clean-up, volunteers can enjoy a sponsor-provided lunch while they admire their piles of collected trash. Each volunteer receives a free T-shirt commemorating the event as a thank you for their hard work. Crow River Clean-Up Day is a great activity for Boy Scout Troops, Cub Scout Packs, Girl Scouts, 4H Clubs, church or school groups, and businesses to participate in, according to Sander. “We’re always looking to add new cities, clean-up locations, and groups to the effort,” she said. Through partici-

pation by volunteers in the past 13 years, CROW has helped coordinate more than 3,280 citizens to remove more than 67 tons of trash from the Crow River and its tributaries. If people are interested in participating in the Crow River Clean-up Day, they can contact Diane Sander at 763-682-1933 ext. 3 or by email at, or they can contact a local organizer. Local contacts for the clean-up: ◆ Brooks Lake — Manda Goldsberry 320-286-2871 ◆ Brownton/Stewart — Gerri Fitzloff 320-562-2369 ◆ Forest City — Chuck Schoolmeesters 320-693-2972 ◆ Hutchinson — Roger Hartsuiker 320-234-1327 ◆ New London — Jonathan Morales 320-796-0888 ◆ Paynesville — Sally Clawson 320333-6179




CURRENTS Steve McComas, an aquatic scientist with Blue Water Science in St. Paul, uses a rake to pull up weeds from Lake Koronis, which straddles Stearns and Meeker counties. Starry stonewort was found in the lake in 2015, and McComas found new growth of the aquatic invasive species in late May near the public access on Minnesota Highway 55. PHOTOS BY JULIANA THILL

DNR confirms starry stonewort in two lakes, including one case found by Starry Trek volunteers Aquatic invasive species has been found in 11 lakes in Minnesota By Juliana Thill EDITOR


he news began to spread in August of starry stonewort’s growth in two more Minnesota lakes. Following an organized search Aug. 5 by trained volunteers who searched lakes in 20 counties, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the invasive algae starry stonewort in Grand Lake in Stearns County. “Although we were hoping to find no new populations, we are glad this one was discovered early, thanks to the people who participated in the coordinated search known as ‘Starry Trek,’



Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor, said at the time. “We’re also encouraged that there hasn’t been a greater number of lakes found to have starry stonewort during this major search.” A week later, on Aug. 21, the DNR said it confirmed another finding of starry stonewort in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County. There are now 11 lakes in Minnesota where starry stonewort has been confirmed. Starry stonewort is an alga that can form dense mats, which can interfere with use of a lake and compete with native plants. It is most likely spread when fragments have not been properly cleaned from trailered boats, personal watercraft, docks, boat lifts, anchors or other water-related equipment. Lake Koronis, which straddles Stearns and Meeker counties, was the first lake in Minnesota where starry stonewort was found.

The DNR confirmed that and one other case in 2015, seven cases in 2016, and two this year, as of Aug. 25 when this magazine went to press. The invasive algae has been present in at least some of these lakes for several years, rather than being spread to many lakes in a just a year or two, according to the DNR. Since the first case was confirmed in 2015, all but one have been reported in August, when the telltale star-shaped bulbils are most abundant and visible. “Now is the time for people to look. We also encourage anyone interested to consider becoming part of an even larger group of trained detectors next year through University of Minnesota Extension,” Wolf said. The Aug. 5 search, named Starry Trek, included “a force of 200 volunteer citizen scientists helping to scour Minnesota lakes for starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species,” Megan Weber, AIS Extension educator with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive

CURRENTS Species Research Center, said in an email to volunteers. “As a result of this event, 211 public accesses on 178 lakes across the state were checked by dedicated volunteers,” Weber said. Starry Trek was coordinated by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, University of Minnesota Extension and the DNR. A tandem event, called “AIS Snapshot Day,” involved the River Alliance of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Extension and Wisconsin DNR. In Grand Lake, DNR invasive species specialists found a light, isolated growth of starry stonewort near the public access. The access was shut down later for removal of the AIS. In Lake Minnewaska, DNR invasive species specialists confirmed an abundant growth of starry stonewort among native aquatic plants in the narrow marina off the main body of the lake. Additional searches are being conducted to determine whether it is anywhere beyond the marina. Treatment options were being consid-

All but one of the 11 cases of starry stonewort have been reported in August, when the telltale star-shaped bulbils are most abundant and visible. ered. Starry stonewort has never been eradicated from any lake in the United States, but treatment can ease access and recreational use of a lake, while helping to reduce the risk of infestation to other water bodies. Information on how to identify starry stonewort can be found on the DNR’s website,, and any suspicious plants should be

reported to the DNR. For Starry Trek volunteers who submitted AIS specimens, which their local coordinator sent to the DNR for identification, Weber included results of those reports in her email. Some of the area findings include: Becker ◆ Big Cormorant Lake, Chinese mystery snail (verified). Stearns ◆ Kraemer Lake, submitted sample determined to be water marigold and coontail. ◆ Black Pool, submitted sample determined to be chara. ◆ Big Fish Lake, Chinese mystery snail (verified). ◆ Grand Lake, Starry stonewort (verified). ◆ Cedar Island, submitted sample determined to be coontail. Wright ◆ Lake John, submitted sample determined to be nitella. More information about citizen science at MAISRC and the AIS detector program is online at



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Fall offers opportunity to check for zebra mussels, other AIS on docks, boats Equipment infested with AIS can be placed on adjacent shoreline By Juliana Thill EDITOR


ith fall around the corner, many Minnesotans are or will be pulling in their boats and closing up cabins for the season. It’s the time of year when the Department of Natural Resources asks every cabin and lakeshore owner to watch for aquatic invasive species when removing docks, boat lifts, swim rafts and other equipment from the water. The end of the season offers an opportunity to monitor for AIS according to the DNR. In the fall 2016, a lake service provider business contacted the DNR after finding an adult zebra mussel on a boat lift in storage on a Kimble Lake beach in Crow Wing County. DNR invasive species staff surveyed the lake and found one additional zebra mussel on a boat lift out of the water several hundred feet north of the public access. “We want to remind lake property owners to carefully inspect docks and boat lifts once they’re out of the water for the season,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Several recent zebra mussel confirmations have been made because vigilant lake property owners, lake service providers and watercraft inspectors are checking docks and lifts.” Zebra mussels are an invasive (nonnative) species that can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes. People are asked to look on the posts, wheels and underwater support



People are asked to look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period. In newly infested waters, adult zebra mussels may not be abundant, and there may be only a few mussels on a piece of equipment. In the photo above, it’s difficult to see the zebra mussel found on equipment in Kimble Lake in Crow Wing County. Upon closer inspection, it can be seen in the photo at left. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MINNESOTA DNR

bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period. In newly infested waters, adult zebra mussels may not be abundant and there may be only a few mussels on a piece of equipment. On a smooth

surface, juvenile mussels feel gritty, like sandpaper. There are specific legal requirements that cabin owners and boaters must follow when removing and storing watercraft and equipment for the winter — or hiring someone to handle it.

CURRENTS When hauling boats or other watercraft to a storage facility away from the shoreline property, make sure there are no invasive species attached. It is illegal to transport watercraft with invasive species attached. However, if the watercraft is contaminated with AIS and it needs to be transported to another location for cleaning and winter storage, the DNR provides an authorization form to transport watercraft. The form should be downloaded, completed, signed and kept in possession during transport. Zebra mussels and other invasive plants and animals must be removed before transporting the watercraft back to a lake or other waterbody. It is legal to remove a dock, boat lift, dock, weed roller, swim raft, or irrigation equipment from infested waters and place it on the adjacent shoreline property — even if there are zebra mussels or other prohibited invasive species attached. A permit is not required to place equipment on the shoreline.

Preventing spread of aquatic invasive species The new confirmation of starry stonewort in a Minnesota lake is a reminder to boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species: ◆ Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft. ◆ Drain all water by removing drain plugs. ◆ Keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft. ◆ Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access.To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters: ◆ Spray with high-pressure water. ◆ Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds). ◆ Dry for at least five days.

If the equipment is to be installed in another waterbody, all aquatic plants and animals such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, must be removed, and the equipment must be dried for 21 days before placing in other waters. If a new infestation of zebra mussels, faucet snails or other aquatic invasive species is suspected, the exact

location should be noted, a photo taken and a specimen should be kept. Call 888-646-6367 or contact a local DNR AIS specialist — find an AIS specialist online at ais/contacts.html. Learn about Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species rules and regulations, and the DNR’s lake service provider program at

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WCCO visited the Crow River rock spillway in Eheim Park in Hutchinson in August for a televised feature.


WCCO shines spotlight on Hutchinson for its ‘Goin’ to the Lake’ segment TV, radio crews talk with local people, visit businesses, Belle Lake, Crow River By Kay Johnson CONTRIBUTING WRITER


utchinson took center stage in mid-August when WCCO-TV came to town and featured the city in its “Goin’ to the Lake” feature on the Thursday and Friday evening broadcasts. WCCO newscasters Frank Vascellaro and Mike Max were in town Aug. 16-18. “In Hutchinson, Main Street is not just a name,” Vascellaro said. “It’s thriving. It’s a beautiful Main Street with the river, life and vitality. I think it’s a great sign of a healthy community, and it’s cool.” Max has visited Hutchinson plenty of times — his brother, Marc, and parents Barb and Ron live there, and it wasn’t Vascellaro’s first visit, either. Vascellaro was introduced to Hutchinson when WCCO Radio launched its “High School Sports Rally” kick-off show in town. “People turned out,” he said. “It made a great impression on me. Every seat was filled. It was a great kick-off show and I have fond memories.” This time, the two men — with a television crew — made the rounds visiting many of the community’s high spots including Clay Coyote Gallery and Pottery, York Farm, Harmony River Living Center, the Crow River rock spillway in Eheim Park, Belle Lake, Zella’s, Crow River Winery, and McCormick’s restaurant. “The experience with the WCCO team has been wonderful from start to finish,” said Morgan Baum, owner and chief executive officer of Clay Coyote. Hutchinson resident Greg Muellerleile met Max and




Talking about Hutchinson are, from left, WCCO anchor Mike Max, Hutchinson Mayor Gary Foricer and WCCO anchor Frank Vascellaro as part of WCCO-TV’s “Goin’ to the Lake.” Vascellaro down by the Crow River. “They were sitting on a bench and no one else was around,” he said. Muellerleile walked up to them and they started talking about fishing. “I told them Belle Lake was one of my favorites,” he said. “They were very friendly guys.” This is the sixth year WCCO has conducted its summer series “Goin’ to the Lake.” Hutchinson had been selected in April as one of this year’s six featured towns. It joined Waterville, Duluth and Detroit Lakes in Minnesota, and Spooner and Emery in Wisconsin. “People have been great,” Max said. “They have a lot of pride in Hutchinson,” Vascellaro said. Kay Johnson is a staff writer with the Hutchinson Leader.





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CURRENTS Schlangen’s dairy farm, north of Eden Valley, participates in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. This voluntary program helps farmers and landowners mitigate risks to the state’s water resources.


Dan Schlangen’s dairy farm sits across the road from Vails and Eden lakes north of Eden Valley. For years, manure and cropland runoff degraded water quality in nearby streams and lakes. After the Stearns Soil and Water Conservation District contacted him, “it was a lot of meetings, paperwork, and cost,” Schlangen said. “But we were near two lakes, and we like to use them for recreation, too. We realized that the SWCD was on our side.”

Stearns County dairy farmers add water quality to chores


mid the planted fields and rolling forested hills in central Minnesota, sunlight sparkles off the many streams and lakes. Working to keep the water clean, several farmers in the Sauk River watershed chain of lakes southwest of St. Cloud stand out for their conservation farming practices that benefit water quality, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. An increasing number of farmers have signed up for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. This voluntary program helps farmers and landowners identify and mitigate on-farm risks to the state’s water resources. Currently, more than 400 farms are certified statewide. Stearns County outranks all Minnesota counties for conservation grants to farmers through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program. From 2000 to 2015, more than $20 million in grants funded hundreds of projects for water quality. Stearns County farmers and landowners are realizing how the Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program can help them improve their stewardship. Those who participate in the certification program work with conservation professionals to create whole-farm conservation plans that focus on water protection. Farmers participating in the program are eligible to receive financial assistance through the program’s pool of federal conservation grants. Dan Schlangen’s dairy farm sits across the road from Vails and Eden lakes north of Eden Valley in southern Stearns County. Like many small farms of the past, over many years, the manure and cropland runoff degraded



water quality in nearby streams and lakes. When Stearns Soil and Water Conservation District contacted Schlangen several years ago about the need to improve a manure storage pit, it led to a new basin, manure stacking slab, and a 60-foot-wide, mile-long grass waterway. “It was a lot of meetings, paperwork and cost,” Schlangen said. “People hesitate to do anything because of that. But we were near two lakes, and we like to use them for recreation, too. We realized that the SWCD was on our side, and it was good working with them.” As of June, certified farms have added 716 new conservation practices keeping more than 14.7 million pounds of sediment out of rivers while saving nearly 20.6 million pounds of soil and 8,919 pounds of phosphorus on farms each year, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. A few miles northeast of Schlangen’s, Mill Creek wraps around the barns of MAWQCP-certified dairy farmer Tom Gregory’s home, about five miles southeast of Cold Spring. As it meanders from Goodners Lake toward Pearl Lake, Mill Creek flows through Gregory’s property where it is protected by wide buffers and proper manure storage. A major expansion to about 600 cows moved the dairy to a new barn across the road and farther from Mill Creek. A large storage basin contains manure. A variety of cover crops provides soil protection and additional forage. As a Stearns SWCD supervisor, Gregory is introducing other farmers to the certification program. To get started, farmers and landowners can contact their local SWCD office. More information is available on the Department of Agriculture Water Quality Certification webpage:


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Boats take off at Lake Ripley in Litchfield for the Monday night bass fishing league. Hutchinson has two fishing leagues — the South Fork Crow River Bass Masters, who compete on Monday, and Prairie Lakes Anglers, who fish on Thursdays.

Local leagues treat fishing as a serious sport Hutchinson’s two fishing leagues have long waiting lists to join By Dave Pedersen CONTRIBUTING WRITER


n the Hutchinson area, there is no debate about fishing being a sport or recreation, because it can be both. Hutchinson is home to two fishing clubs — South Fork Crow River Bass Masters, who compete Monday nights; and Prairie Lakes Anglers, who compete on Thursday nights. Both clubs also conduct weekend events once a month during the summer season. The two fishing leagues vary slightly in rules, but they share the common goal of competing to be the best at netting either the large or small mouth bass. The Thursday league adds walleye to the mix. Both leagues practice catch and release after weigh-in. Russ Duenow, president of South Fork Crow River Bass Masters, and Zach Richter, secretary for the Prairie Lakes Anglers, share another common denominator — both league leaders got involved as a way to stay connected with their families. Richter started league fishing when



Russ Duenow of Hutchinson is president of the South Fork Crow River Bass Masters fishing club, that gets together on Monday nights. he was 12, teaming up with his father Joe. They have fished together in competition the last 15 years. The situation is similar with Duenow. “I started so I could be with my boys,” Duenow said. “When they were younger, I let them work out who will

fish. Tyler is still involved with his own boat and teammate.” The Prairie Lakes Anglers was organized about 30 years ago. South Fork Crow River Bass Masters anglers have been competing about 12 summers. Both programs continue to have “hefty” waiting lists of two-person teams wanting to take part. Richter sets the schedule for the Prairie Lakes Anglers’ 20 teams, plus helps plan the awards banquet. The Thursday league also hands out two $500 scholarships to local students each year. Area companies and individuals donate for the end of the season scholarship fundraising raffle. “The DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has set restrictions on how many teams can fish on area lakes,” Richter said. “That is why we have a long waiting list. There is no limit to who can fish as long as it is done legally.” Richter said his league tries to fish no more than an hour from Hutchinson. Green Lake near Willmar is one of the farthest league events. The 16-week season involves a different lake each time. On Thursday, Prairie Lakes Anglers teams are judged on the weight of five fish, either bass or walleye. Teams fish from 6 to 9 p.m. starting the week after the bass opener and go until the



As the sun goes down over Green Lake near Willmar, members of the Thursday night Hutchinson area fishing league were still on the water. The Prairie Lakes Anglers try to fish on lakes that are no more than an hour from Hutchinson during their 16-week season. Green Lake is one of the farthest league events. week before Labor Day. A tool designer with two young children, Richter said the league is lowkey with low stress. Awards are given for biggest bass and walleye, plus high team average. The top prize for both leagues is a paddle painted by local artist Richard Schiebel. “My best fishing tip is to use what you are confident with,” Richter said of lures and methods. Live bait can be used at the Thursday night league, but not at Monday’s league where the limit is 10 teams. “I started fishing more than 20 years ago in other leagues,” recalled Duenow. “I wanted something smaller, so I started my own league in Hutchinson. We are able to fish any of the local lakes no matter the size.” The South Fork Crow River Bass Masters goes by a point system for where a team ranks each week. A bonus point is given to who landed the biggest fish each week. At a recent

I started fishing more than 20 years ago in other leagues. I wanted something smaller, so I started my own league in Hutchinson. — RUSS DUENOW, president of South Fork Crow River Bass Masters

Monday league night the winning team only had four bass, but they totaled 16 pounds. Each team contributes $20 per

week, with $1 going toward purchasing raffle items given at the end of the season. The rest of the money is divided among the top three places each week. The entry fee for Saturday South Fork Crow River events is $50. Duenow, a building contractor, said teams like to stay as close to Hutchinson as possible. “Bass fishing is pretty easy, but it is a matter of timing depending on the day or year,” Duenow said. “Everything plays into it such as water temperature, wind direction and how much sun. Small mouth bass love to be in the sun, where largemouth bass like to be in weeds or under docks and trees.” Both clubs abide by DNR rules so they don’t spread invasive species to other lakes. League officials share the good news that on any given night, on any Hutchinson area lake, anglers should be able to catch fish.

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Former Litchfield resident John Hoyer recently finished his second year as a pro angler with Cabela’s National Walleye Tour. In addition to walleye, Hoyer, who works part time as a fishing guide, fishes for muskies, and perch in the winter.

Reeling in numerous achievements John Hoyer, a Litchfield High School graduate, had the time of his life in his second year as a pro angler with Cabela’s National Walleye Tour 16



or John Hoyer, 2017 will go down as a year of personal and professional achievement. Hoyer, a former Litchfield resident, competed as a pro angler in Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship in mid-August and placed in the Top 10, earning a paycheck of more than By Juliana Thill $9,000. EDITOR For the second-year pro angler, the success is hard to believe. “It’s still setting in,” he said from his home in Orono, Minnesota, a few days after the tour ended. “I was very happy with it for sure. To come in the Top 10 against my boyhood fishing idols was amazing.” Leading up to the championship, Hoyer fished in the three Cabela’s National Walleye Tour events this spring and summer. The first leg was April 13-14 on Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio, and Hoyer came in 53rd place out of 143 anglers.

MAIN DECK The second leg was May 11-12 on Lake Sakakawea in Garrison, North Dakota, and Hoyer placed 41st out of 112 anglers. The third leg of the tour was June 16-17 on the Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. That’s when the excitement really started to build. At the end of opening day, leading the tournament with 20.66 pounds was Mark Courts, the 2015 Angler of the Year. Just behind him with 20.52 pounds was Hoyer, who was the 2015 Co-Angler of the Year. Hoyer described the day as flawless, and said understanding feeding windows was an important part of his success. That and the river knowledge of his partner and friend, Bill Shimota. On the final day on the Mississippi, Hoyer finished second overall, coming up one fish short. His official cumulative fish weight registered at 40.8 pounds. Courts maintained his lead and took first place with a cumulative weight of 41.97 pounds. “That was awesome and bittersweet because I only lost by a pound,” Hoyer said. “I had the tournament-winning fish probably four or five times, including the last cast of the day on Day 2 and lost a 5- to 7-pounder about eight feet from the boat, which would have won me the championship.” Courts walked away with a check for $81,266. For second place, Hoyer earned $19,654 with Ranger and Evinrude bonuses. Then came the most lucrative event in walleye fishing, the 2017 Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship on Aug. 16-18 with a top prize of $85,053. The full field was supposed to have fished each of the first two days then cut for the third and final day with the winner being determined by the heaviest cumulative weight. The championship was on Green Bay in Marinette, Wisconsin, a dream fishing spot for Hoyer. At the end of the first day, Hoyer was in 15th place. Then, organizers cancelled Day 2 of the tour due to inclement weather. The three-day championship was suddenly a two-day event. So, rules changed, Hoyer said, and all the anglers could participate on the final day. On Aug. 18, what was supposed to


“Muskies are cool. Lake Vermilion is cool. My dad catching a muskie on Lake Vermilion is cool,” John Hoyer says on his website about a fishing trip in 2015. “It was one of the high points of my summer, and a moment I won't soon forget.” be the third and final day, organizers postponed the tournament one more day due to dangerously strong winds. Finally, on Aug. 19, anglers headed out on the water. By the end of the day, Wisconsin pro Dean Arnoldussen took first place, and Hoyer came in seventh place, earning $9,980 with Ranger and Evinrude bonuses. “Those were my two goals this year — I wanted to be in the Top 10 for a tournament and cash my first check — and I actually accomplished both of them,” Hoyer said.

From co-angler to pro angler He had finished in the Top 10 as coangler, but this was Hoyer’s first time doing so as a pro. Hoyer fished as an amateur with various pro anglers in Cabela’s National Walleye Tour events for two years. In a pro-amateur format tournament, professionals are randomly paired with an amateur, and each day it’s a different pairing, Hoyer said. “It’s a lottery in who you get paired with,” he said. Two years ago, his career made a decisive turn. At the end of the 2015 season, Hoyer finished first in the race for the coangler category with four straight top10 finishes. Courts was named Pro


John Hoyer took seventh place as a pro angler in Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship in August. Angler of the Year and Hoyer was named Co-Angler of the Year after the championship at Devils Lake, North Dakota. The awards are given to the two anglers who perform consistently throughout the season. Hoyer won more than $10,000 fishing as a co-angler in 2015 and decided



MAIN DECK to head to the front of the boat and fish the pro category in 2016. Winning Co-Angler of the Year was the final push to finally go pro, Hoyer said. “Fishing as a co-angler is the fastest crash course you can get as far as learning. Each pro does it just a little bit differently,” he said. Hoyer credited his pro partners as an invaluable source of fishing knowledge, with pros always willing to impart wisdom. As an accomplished co-angler Hoyer became entrenched in the pro walleye community. In 2016, he entered as a pro and began to compete against the best walleye anglers in the world. However, that first year on the pro side, he didn’t win any prize money. “I was close to the money three times, but my first six pro events, I didn’t cash an event,” he said. So, to reach the Top 10 in the past two tours this year meant a financial return on his investment. While winning has its financial rewards, he also has found the coangler and pro angler lifestyle to be personally rewarding. “That just kind of sneaks up on you, the actual being there. The cool part is, I had a hall of fame angler tell me I already have achieved the hardest thing and that’s respect from my peers. ... You have to do it just from being really good. Since my relationship with them as a co-angler, they introduced me to all of these hall of famers, and they got to know how good of a fisherman I was, and I’m very good friends with all of these guys. Now, it’s so fun. They are literally happy for me,” Hoyer said.

Strong work ethic Hoyer, 37, has been passionate about fishing since he could hold a fishing pole. He lived in Calgary for most of his early childhood, moving to Litchfield as a teenager with his parents, Phil and Anne, and siblings Andrew and Elizabeth. His father, the Rev. Phil Hoyer, had been named pastor at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Hoyer enrolled at Litchfield Middle School and graduated in 1998 from Litchfield High School. During his teen years in Litchfield, he fished many area lakes.



For more information For information about: ◆ John Hoyer, visit his website: ◆ Cabela’s National Walleye Tour go to: Follow John Hoyer online ◆ On Facebook: ◆ On Instagram: johnhoyerfish


“Minnie Belle and Washington were probably my two favorites. They were the two best lakes in the immediate area,” he said. He went fishing with his father, “quite a bit, and we got an aluminum boat when I was 16, and he let me take that out all of the time.” He still returns to Litchfield to fish. “I fish in that area a couple times a year or meet friends when I go to the Dakotas, and they go fishing with me. I definitely stay in touch with a couple of Litchfield people,” he said. But his schedule is busy, between working part time as a carpenter, working part time as a multi-species fishing guide — from Lake Vermilion to Mille Lacs Lake, to the Minneapolis metro area waters — and now fishing as a pro in Cabela’s National Walleye Tour. “I’m in the carpenter’s union. I’m a blue collar worker, and I work as a guide for fishing. And the promotional part for fishing has turned into another job. I do carpentry for health insurance and some money, and the rest is generated from fishing,” Hoyer said. “I’ve been fortunate.” He has a strong work ethic, which started when he was a kid, he said, so his carpentry employer is understanding when he needs time off for fishing tournaments. “From mowing grass at St. Paul Lutheran to shoveling snow, I’ve

always had that. So for my boss, I laid it out to him: ‘I’m a part-time employee and I’m helping you as much as anyone in the company.’ I’m very fortunate that he’s accepted that.” Fishing is Hoyer’s passion. He loves competing, as well as educating and helping other anglers catch the fish of their dreams. He documents his adventures on the water with videos and photos on his website, Facebook page, and Instagram account. When asked what Hoyer likes about fishing, and whether that has changed over the years, he said he’s not sure he understood what he liked about fishing when he was younger, he just liked it. He’s come to realize there’s a thrill to the sport. “I don’t think I knew what it was back then. I know it’s cliche, but I tell a lot of people it’s the anticipation of catching fish. It’s that fun, exciting anticipation. I’m on edge waiting for it to happen,” he said. “I like to try something new for the excitement because it could be better. It’s the anticipation of catching the next fish or the next big one,” Hoyer said. “In the tournaments, it’s like that times 100. I’m already looking at next year. It’s on the calendar. From now until the first day of the tournament, it will grow at a fever pitch for me. That gives me goosebumps and butterflies.” ■


John Hoyer hoists a 63-pound Taimen caught on an 11-weight fly rod in Russia. This fish was the first fish he ever caught on a fly rod, and it happened to be the biggest Taimen ever caught on the fly at the time. It measured 56.25 inches to the fork in the tail and had a girth of 29 inches. Hoyer has fished across the United States and now overseas. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Q&A with John Hoyer M

innesota professional angler John Hoyer wrapped up his second year fishing the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour on the professional side. Hoyer is making his mark in professional walleye fishing. Freelance writer Scott Mackenthun caught up with Hoyer to talk fishing near and far. “So you grew up in Litchfield, the son of a pastor. Tell me about growing up. What got you so excited to fish?” Hoyer: “Well, I grew up in Calgary when I was 4 to 14 years old. I had the Canadian persona of fishing. It’s when I first got interested in it. But really I fished my whole life whether it be bluegills or walleyes or bass or whatever. I think what really started upping my game was when I was allowed to take the boat out when I was 16 in Litchfield. We had a 16-foot Tracker boat with a 40-horse on it. I was able to take that all over the place, Minnie Belle, Washington, Green, Belle, all those lakes in the area. That’s when I started prioritizing fishing as much as I could.” “So take me on from there. Take me through your fishing journey. You fished as a kid, then you went

off to school, you continued to fish ... take me through and mix in the personal and professional side of it. How did it go from there on?” Hoyer : “I ended up going to North Dakota State University and that’s when my dad, and parents, took a (pastor’s) call down in Florida. From that point on I was actually on my own … I was a union carpenter in the summertime … and then continued to fish a ton. A lot! ... (S)ince I got my driver’s license I would literally fish somewhere every weekend and during the week. I mean just all the time, nonstop! All my friends for as long as I’ve known them thought that I’m crazy for as much as I fish. It’s normal to a select-few friends, but to others it’s not … Inevitably, if you fish more than 95 percent of people, I think over time you’re going to be better than them, know more than them, and get pretty good at it. Inevitably all my friends want to go fishing with me more and more. So fast forward to today, that part hasn’t changed, it’s always a fun time to reacquaint yourself with a friend you may only see twice a year, or on a fishing weekend. Maybe the time we spend together grows less but it seems like when we do get together and go fishing it’s always the same vibe.” “What was the leap of faith you needed to fish the

■ HOYER Continued on Page 20 FALL 2017 | DOCKSIDE


MAIN DECK HOYER Continued from Page 19 pro side of the National Walleye Tour?” Hoyer : “That was kind of like two years in the making for me. I have had so many instances of what my dad has taught me is divine intervention. One of those instances was meeting Dustin Minke and having him invite me out to Lake Erie for my first (Cabela’s National Walleye Tour) co-angler event. He’s teaming with Bill Shimota and Korey Sprengel. Shimota, Sprengel, Minke ... I had seen all their names before on the FLW TV shows and stuff. They said they needed a co-angler, so from that first tournament on Erie, which I actually was fortunate enough to win. From then on, I don’t know how I got into it, but I was right there in the meetings, I was being asked my opinion ‘What do you think of this?’ observations, where’d you fish today? They really took me under their wings so much, and it complemented me and my angling ability. They could see that I knew fishing very well, and from the get-go I felt so at home with those guys. After two years of it, I really felt like I was ready to take that next step. The learning that happens from fishing with the other tournament pros ... You can learn so much in one day with the guy on the pattern that he’s developed. It might be the pattern that he’s fished his whole life. If you’re observant and you take good mental notes, this is 30 years of fishing experience that you’re watching over eight hours. I really took advantage of all those trips, those guide trips from the industry’s best. But on the flip side, I knew that I could hang, too. The boat driving, the mentality, after winning Co-angler of the Year that second year, it was really plain to me that I wanted to go for it. I guess what really sealed it was when Bill, Korey and Dusty said “You’re going to join our team if you go pro next year, right?” Then I was just set, and I knew I had to do it. When would you get an opportunity like that to fish with those guys? It was a pretty easy decision, but it was still a leap of faith, especially on the finances side of it.” “Tell me about your latest pursuits, give me a list of places across the country and across the world, where you’ve had a chance to wet a line.” Hoyer: “2016 took a real turn as far as being able to say I fished around the world. Starting on the National Walleye Tour, it involves fishing all over the Midwest region, wherever walleyes roam. It’s become normal for me, Erie, the Great Lakes. My normal tour of Minnesota for muskies includes Vermillion, Mille Lacs and Minnetonka. Right before my first professional tournament on Erie last April, I got a message from one of my clients who I’ve taken muskie fishing the last two years ... In that email, Paul told me that he and Mike and Reggie were going on a 23-day fishing adventure, which included time fishing in Russia where an American group has never been before, and then time in Mongolia where the group had been last year. He asked me if I could come along as a guest. So my head was spinning with the Erie tournament starting but after it was over, I knew that no matter what I had to make that happen. That was late September and early October of last year, 23 days. It basi-



cally included fishing in very northeastern Russia, so Siberia, in a very, very remote area. It was this amazing lodge that one of the oligarchs from Russia built. It was like a $10 million lodge in the middle of nowhere with 20 people that work there. The staff were at his beck-and-call 365 days a year. We took a helicopter to the lodge. That was obviously the most amazing fishing adventure I’ve ever been on and I don’t know if I’ll ever go on another one that can compare to that ... One hundred percent language barrier and then getting to be buddies with these guides. It was like playing a game of charades all day … Every day of the trip, I couldn’t help but go to bed and say a little prayer thanking God for the opportunity to be there. It was so euphoric, I can’t even describe it. Meeting those people, and everyone having that same, common passion for fishing, was really cool to see that in a different world completely.” “How does one progress as an angler, to go from a small town kid to a fishing pro? What were the breakthroughs you had to experience to make it?” Hoyer: “I listened to a seminar from a couple of my good buddies, Jason Przekurat and Korey Sprengel, at the (National Professional Anglers Association) conference. Of all the four big seminars that I listened to, the No. 1 thing that rang true in my mind was when Przekurat said ‘Don’t worry about trying to be sponsored or getting sponsored. Those will all happen, those will all come in due time. The best thing you can do is fish every day.’ Like Jason said, that is spot on. If you have a passion for what you do, the track will just become cleared for you. If you want it to happen, it’s not that hard to make happen. I had three, maybe four, years in a row where I had over 300 days on the water. Every day. You will just inevitably become the cream of the crop. I don’t mean to say that arrogantly, but if you fish more than 90 percent of people, you will be in the upper 10 percent of fishermen. It’s just a simple part of being a professional. It goes with any trade, any business, anything. If you put in 10,000 hours, you’ll be a professional in whatever that might be. (Malcolm Gladwell popularized this notion in his book “Outliers.”) I didn’t think of that when I was fishing that much, but when I look back, that’s exactly how I ended up separating myself and building the confidence ... When people start seeing you being that upper 10 percent angler, there’s inevitably people in your life that will want to hire you for guiding that are way more busy in their career path. For them to be able to go out fishing and be right on fish, quality fish or even trophy fish, in exchange for a couple hundred dollars, is a great trade for people on a different income bracket. It’s also a very good time to learn the public relations part of fishing, which in the long run is the most important part. It’s a great way to grow your brand, people start to know who you are, they know your personality.” Freelance writer Scott Mackenthun, a Brownton native, has been writing for the Hutchinson Leader since 2005. You can follow him on Instagram @scottmackenthun and on Twitter @ScottyMack31.

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New regulations allow fall trout fishing in specific lakes


rout anglers have all the more reason to visit Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston and Spring Valley in southeastern Minnesota, thanks to a change that effectively allows trout fishing all year long in these cities. “This fills the gap between open trout seasons and makes these special regulations match the popular year-round season established in three nearby state parks,” when the trout season is traditionally closed,” said Ronald Benjamin, Lanesboro area fisheries supervisor. The change allows catch-and-release trout fishing in the fall in these cities, which means anglers can either catch and release, or catch and keep trout depending on the time of year, on the South Branch Root River in Preston and Lanesboro; Mill Creek in Chatfield; and Spring Valley Creek in Spring Valley. “Adding this new opportunity is great for anglers, and it’s sensitive to the needs of surrounding landowners,” Benjamin said. The change is among several to fishing regulations that are specific to individual waters and went into effect March 1. Regulations specific to individual waters take precedence over statewide regulations. PHOTO BY LYLE DIEKMANN

Chase Piepenburg of Litchfield won first place in the Watercade fishing contest in July with his northern pike.

Litchfield Watercade fishing contest reels in several large fish, hefty strings


hirty-four fishermen and women took to Lake Ripley for Watercade’s annual fishing contest. Rules limited the contest to 40 boats of a maximum of five contestants each for the four-hour event. Boat 28, captained by Chase Piepenburg, hauled in the largest northern pike, coming in at seven pounds, 13 ounces. He also had the top stringer of up to three northern pikes, weighing in at 12 pounds, eight ounces. He won $100 for the northern and $200 for the string. John Marritz in boat 26 had a string of 10 pounds, 15 ounces for the $100 second place prize. The largest bass was caught by boat 21, headed by Ron Warren, coming in at five pounds. Warren tied boat 19 of last names Nelson and Bateman for the largest string of up to five bass at 13 pounds, 12 ounces. They split a $200 prize. Lonnie Johnson in boat 11 had the top string of up to five panfish coming in at two pounds, 13 ounces to win $200. The Sussners in boat five and Warren in boat 21 split the second-place prize of $100 at two pounds, three ounces. Boat 15, headed by Kyle Kalkbrenner, hauled in the largest walleye at two pounds, 13 ounces.



Stillwater artist wins stamp contest Stillwater artist Nicholas Markell won the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ 2018 trout and salmon stamp contest with a painting of a brown trout. The painting was Nicholas Markell’s painting selected Aug. 3 by wins 2018 Trout and Salmon judges from among Stamp Competition. 14 submissions for the annual contest. The trout and salmon stamp validation is sold for $10 along with fishing licenses and is required for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64 and nonresidents older than age 18 and under age 65 to fish designated trout streams, trout lakes and Lake Superior, and when in possession of trout or salmon. For an extra 75 cents, purchasers can receive the validation, as well as the pictorial stamp in the mail. It also is sold as a collectible. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to trout and salmon management and habitat work. For more information on trout fishing license requirements, visit

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Governor conducts Water Quality Town Hall meetings across state G

ov. Mark Dayton has begun championing his goal to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025 through town hall meetings. “All Minnesotans have a stake in water that’s safe for drinking, swimming, and fishing,” Dayton said. Achieving a 25 percent improvement in water quality statewide would require Minnesota to take aggressive, yet achievable action, according to the governor’s office. It also would help Minnesota meet existing commitments to reduce phosphorus 12 percent by 2025 and nitrogen 45 percent by 2040 in the Mississippi River. A series of 10 Water Quality Town Hall meetings began July 31. Dayton and his administration organized the meetings to offer Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss water quality challenges facing their communities and the state, learn from experts, and engage with policymakers. “These town hall meetings will further the important conversations already happening across Minnesota around water quality. Together we can develop strategies and solutions that work for all of our communities,”

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Town hall meetings Town hall meetings are free to attend and run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 5:30 p.m. RSVP for an event by visiting the Governor and Lt. Governor’s Facebook page. No advance registration is necessary. Remaining Water Quality Town Hall meetings include:

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DNR updating electronic system for hunting, fishing licenses


unters, anglers and everyone who has a role in selling licenses for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources can anticipate a new electronic license system that will enhance customer service starting in the spring of 2020. “Over the next two years, we will be modernizing the electronic license system to create a better and more efficient experience for customers — changes that will save the agency as much as $1.5 million,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Customers will find it easier



to purchase licenses and tags online and record their harvests from a mobile device or computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” The DNR sells licenses through a vendor that administers the electronic license system, which allows customers to buy licenses in-person at nearly 1,500 locations around Minnesota, online and by telephone. The contract with the current vendor expires in 2020. “The new system won’t go into effect for more than two years, but we have to begin work now to allow enough

time to choose a vendor, design and implement the system, and communicate with customers and license sales agents,” Michaels said. “Across the spectrum of retail, customers are demanding the convenience of modern technology as part of their purchasing experiences.” The DNR sells about 1.5 million fishing licenses and 580,000 hunting and trapping licenses. People can buy these licenses at a DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at, or by phone at 888-665-4236.


Applications open for Legacy grants Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land can apply for Conservation Partners Legacy grants that help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife. Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications for traditional and metro grant cycles until 4 p.m. Sept. 12, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at Projects must be on public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements. Applicants may request up to $400,000 with a total project cost not exceeding $575,000. Projects also must have a 10 percent match from a source outside a state agency. In its first eight years of funding, over $44 million has been granted through the CPL program for habitat projects throughout Minnesota. Funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. More information about the grants can be found at Potential applicants are encouraged to review the request for proposal and the “how to apply” tab on the website, which guides users through the application process. Questions can be directed to: Jessica Lee, CPL grant program coordinator for the DNR, or 651-259-5233.

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A crowd gathers at RiverSong’s Front Porch Stage along the South Fork Crow River in Hutchinson.

Volunteers, good music, large crowds help create successful RiverSong


t was a weekend of making memories one song at a time. RiverSong Music Festival, a two-day event at Masonic/West River Park in Hutchinson, featured 13 bands, with musicians who traveled from coast to coast. They played a variety of genres, ranging from Americana and roots to folk, funk, pop, rock, blues, country and more July 14-15. Betsy Price, RiverSong board member and chairwoman of the talent committee, said this year’s performers were some of the best to work with. “Overall, excellent, exceptional weekend,” she said. Since its beginning in 2009, the festival has operated on a volunteer-only model. “People like to be at RiverSong. Everyone tries their best, and it works out pretty well,” said Lori Thul, RiverSong’s volunteer coordinator. Volunteers park cars, fill water bottles, check IDs, manage two stages, pour beer and wine, sell CDs, introduce bands, answer questions, walk security along the fence, take tickets, check bags and greet musicians. Don Kenning of Hutchinson is one of the volunteer crew members that sets up the stages, sound and lights. “I like the diversity of music at RiverSong. It’s fun, nice to have something like this in our town,” he said. He also likes the setting by the river. “It’s cool to see people in canoes and kayaks listening to the music,” Kenning said. — By Kay Johnson, staff writer for the Hutchinson Leader




Nationally known Gin Blossoms, led by Robin Wilson, performed at RiverSong Music Festival. The front of the stage was filled with fans dancing to the music. Heather Mahoney, a singersongwriter, performed on the River View Stage.

STARBOARD SNAPSHOTS Little Crow Ski Team entertains crowds with acrobatic stunts


he Little Crow Ski Team returned to Lake Ripley in July to perform at Watercade, Litchfield’s summer celebration. Crowds gathered along the lake shore to watch a free performance by the award-winning ski team based in New London. The Little Crow Water Ski Team has more than 70 skiers who practice three times a week. The Ski Team puts on a show almost every Friday night during June, July and August in Neer Park, 311 Second Ave. SE, New London. Shows typically include skiers performing jumps, barefooting, ballet lines, pyramids, classic doubles and wakeboarding, strap doubles, trios and swivel. — By Juliana Thill, editor

A skier performs ballet moves on the water.

Three skiers jump off a ramp during their Watercade show in Litchfield. Little Crow Ski Team creates a double pyramid in July on Lake Ripley. PHOTOS BY SAMUEL CARLSON





Grilled and Loaded Smashed Potatoes 1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 5 teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle Seasoning, divided 6 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 1 cup chopped yellow onion 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions 1/4 cup sour cream Heat grill to medium. Place potatoes on microwavable plate. Pierce potatoes with fork several times. Microwave on high 5-6 minutes, or until fork-tender but still firm. Let stand until cool enough to handle. In large bowl, toss potatoes, oil and 3 teaspoons seasoning until well coated. Place potatoes on grill and cook, turning frequently, 4-5 minutes or until skin is crispy. In large cast-iron skillet on grill, cook and stir bacon 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Add yellow onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 2-3 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Push bacon mixture to one side of skillet. Add potatoes to other side of skillet. Smash each potato with heavy spatula, bottom of small sturdy bowl or meat pounder. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining seasoning. Spoon bacon mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover pan or close grill. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. To serve, sprinkle with green onions and dollops of sour cream. Servings: 12 Tip: Cooking potatoes before grilling reduces overall grill time.

Share your recipes Share your favorite outdoor recipe, whether it’s for crusted fish, campfire treats, or garden salads. Selected recipes will be published in a future edition of Dockside. Email your recipes to Juliana Thill at or send them to her at the Independent Review, 217 Sibley Ave. N., Litchfield, MN 55355. Include your name, address and phone number.




Pecan-Crusted Halibut Fillets 12 (4-ounce) halibut fillets, skinned 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 3 large eggs 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 7 ounces pecans 1 3/4 cups plain breadcrumbs 6 tablespoons unsalted butter Dijon Cream Sauce 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup coarse grained Dijon mustard Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt and pepper in mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs and mustard. Using a blender or Magic Bullet, finely chop pecans. In third bowl, combine chopped pecans and breadcrumbs. Set the 3 bowls in a row, with baking pan at end for placing fillets. First dredge each fillet in flour, shaking excess back into bowl. Then dip fillet in egg mixture to coat, and place in pecan mixture. Press lightly to coat both sides of fillet with nuts and place fillet on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fillets. (Fillets can be refrigerated up to two hours before sautéeing.) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add as many fillets as will comfortably fit in pan. Cook about 3 minutes per side, or until light brown. (Fillets can be drained on paper towels and refrigerated up to 6 hours before baking.) Arrange sautéed fillets on baking sheets and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, combine cream and Dijon mustard in a medium saucepan. Whisk constantly over low heat 3 minutes or until heated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When fillets are done baking, remove from oven and serve with Dijon Cream Sauce. Helpful hint: To make chopping nuts easier, add a little sugar to bullet cup. Pulse to keep from grinding nuts too finely.


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Hearty Potato and Cheddar Soup with Bacon 4 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons butter 2 small leeks, trimmed and chopped 1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup) 1 large carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup) 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 6 cups chicken broth 3 large Russet potatoes, cut into cubes (about 4 cups) 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces) Freshly ground black pepper SOURCE: WWW.CULINARY.NET Chopped fresh chives Cook bacon in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings. Add butter to saucepan and cook and stir until melted. Add leeks, onion, carrot and garlic to saucepan and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add flour and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in broth. Add potatoes and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the broth mixture is thickened. Stir cream and cheese in saucepan and cook until cheese is melted. Season with black pepper. Crumble bacon. Sprinkle soup with bacon and chives before serving. Makes: 6 servings.

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Apple Crisp 5 cups peeled apple slices 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon tapioca 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 1/2 cups Post Original Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Cereal, finely crushed 1/4 cup margarine, melted Preheat oven to 35. Mix apples, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, tapioca and SOURCE: WWW.CULINARY.NET cinnamon in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. To make topping: stir crushed cereal, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and margarine in medium bowl until well blended. Spread apple mixture in ungreased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cereal topping. Bake for 45 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are tender when pierced with fork. Makes: 6 servings.




Calendar of local events, lake association meetings September Belle Lake Association meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Bonfire. Brownton Rod & Gun Club will have a Fall Fun Night at 5 p.m. Sept. 23 with a meal and door prizes. R.S.V.P. by Sept. 10, as at least 50 people are needed for the event to take place. More details on the club’s Facebook page. RSVP on Facebook or by calling or texting 952-237-7510. Greater Lake Sylvia Association meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at Southside Township Hall. Lake Francis Area Recreation & Conservation Club will have a Volunteer Dinner at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at Triple R Bar & Grill, Kimball. Volunteers are recognized at a dinner every other year. Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of each month, except in November and December. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille, 16818 Minnesota 22, Litchfield. Lake Stella Homeowners Association meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Litchfield American Legion. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday or first Thursday of the month (February through October) at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. North Browns Lake Association meets at 9 a.m. the third Saturday of the month April through September.

October Greater Lake Sylvia Association meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of the month at Southside Township Hall, 8209 County Road 3 NW, Annandale. Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of each month, except November and December. Contact a board member for the time and location of the next meeting. Annual meeting in June.



The sun sets on a boater crossing Lake Ripley.


Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille, 16818 Minnesota 22, Litchfield. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Dassel Rod and Gun Club.

Association meets the third Saturday of the month. Contact a board member for the time and location of the next meeting. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille.



Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille, 16818 Minnesota 22, Litchfield.

Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of each month. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month (February through October) at the Dassel Rod & Gun Club.

December Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille.

January Eden Valley Sportsman’s Club annual ice fishing contest usually is from 1 to 3 p.m. the third Saturday of January near the public access. Limited tickets are sold. Lake Jennie Improvement

Have your event or meeting listed free If your organization or lake association has a meeting or event to list in the calendar, contact Editor Juliana Thill by email at thill@independent or call 320-593-4808 or 320-234-4172.


Find lake information online Belle Lake Association • Website: • Facebook: Belle Lake Association Brooks Lake Area Association • Website: • Facebook: Brooks Lake Clearwater Lake Property Owner Association • Website: Collinwood Community Lake Association • Website: Crow River Organization of Water • Website: • Twitter: @crowriverorg • Facebook: Crow River Lakes and Streams

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French Lake Improvement Association • Website: Greater Lake Sylvia Association • Website: Koronis Lake Association • Website: • Facebook: Koronis Lake Association

Hutchinson - Darwin - Brownton 1-800-937-1728

Lake Francis Area Recreation and Conservation Club • Website: • Facebook: Lake Francis Lake Association Lake Jennie Improvement Association • Website: • Facebook: Lake Jennie Improvement Association Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association • Website: • Facebook: Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association


Lake Ripley Improvement Association • Facebook: Lake Ripley Improvement Association Lake Stella Homeowners Association • Website: • Facebook: Lake Stella Association Lake Washington Improvement Association • Website: • Facebook: Lake Washington Improvement Association Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center • Website: North Browns Lake Association • Website: • Facebook: North Browns Lake Association Editor’s note: If your lake association’s information is not included or if it changes, contact Editor Juliana Thill at 320-593-4808 or by email, thill@independent





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DOCKSIDE Fall 2017